tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN February 7, 2014 6:00pm-8:01pm EST
and on president obama and secretary kerry. i've been disturbed as i have been by many americans by members of the israeli cabinet to size in a very public, very open way secretary kerry over the last two weeks. these two countries have a great friend in the united states from and these are tense times. i would hope the saudis and is really governments will give the obama administration their support, because we need to be unified in facing iran. bob and i are both talking about this embarrassing spectacle of european politicians meeting trade allegations to tehran over the last four weeks. we need the iranians to hear united message. if you have more questions-- >> yes i have more questions. here's a question directed to you, nic. -- nick. would it be a good idea to ask
the iranians to allow a few americans, staff people, to staff the intersections in a question of engagement. there is a sub question, that says what happened in 2008 with the bush administration? why didn't they ask them? this is a question about more context, but also stepping the intersection in terror on with americans. i take my advice from yitzhak rabin when he was prime minister, when he was explaining that in the early 1990's why arafat's shake her hands on the lawn of the white house. as a former diplomat, and i teach diplomacy, i firmly believe we have to be talking to our adversaries and enemies, that the worst thing you can do from your own perspective, from your own national interest, is
to shut yourself off. ispite we agree the regime odious, we have to have a conversation with them, because and ia powerful regime, think the idea that the united establish iran would a consistent channel for our national interests, we do not do them a ferriter, we do ourselves a favor by having the capacity to be more intelligent about the country, and that is part of what the mets do. we lived overseas. our foreign services officers are on point in difficult places, and we translate what is happening in that country for washington. i entered the foreign service full-time in 1982, nobody in my generation went to iran much less learned farsi. when i was the iran negotiator, there were no talks. i spent all my time sanctioning iran. wendy sherman, our
undersecretary, has had this opportunity to engage the iranians, the fact that secretary kerry has had the opportunity, it is good for us. it does not give us anything away. it makes us smarter, better negotiations. i do want to give public --ice to the admonition administration. i do not know if the rains accept it. it is a paranoid regime. they do not tell the truth about us. that is why we need voice of america and cnn to be broadcasting in toronto because the rainy and government distorts who we are. i trust the obama administration to figure out when is the best time, but the idea that you constant communications makes perfect sense to me. with nicketely agree on that. interestingly, at this munich security conference last week, secretary kerry sat down with gn minister.forei
it hardly made the newspapers. this is a good thing because we need to have this dialogue. we need to understand what they are thinking. even if we have serious differences, and i think it is good that is becoming more retuned that americans and iranians sit down and talk. question. since this is a congressional audience or largely so, one of the most -- an interesting question -- one of the most damaging and beneficial steps members of congress could take to help or hurt the initiations over the next six months. not want to advise members of congress, but this is treated as a general question. >> i think it is a good thing that senators step back from a vote on the recently introduced sanctions bill.
we all recognize the importance of very strong sanctions to motivate iran to negotiate seriously and to reach agreement on acceptable deal. i agree with the administration that now is not the right time to impose additional sanctions. and in part because the particular sanctions no that was introduced contained a number of poison pills and it. for example, it indicated that even in the next six months, if iran were to conduct a long- range ballistic missile test or to be seen as supporting directly or indirectly acts of terrorism, then we would be free no longer to implement our pledge that we would not imposed the sanctions during the sixth- month period.
we do not want iran to conduct long-range missile tests, but we cannot renege on our end of the deal if iran engages in actions we do not like but are not covered by the deal. also, that bill specifies in outcome ofl what the negotiations had to be, and this gets to the point of we i have only one administration negotiating here. the onlyelieves that way the president can suspend or lift sanctions, if he can certify he has achieved a deal that they have said is unacceptable, then they have little incentive to negotiate. so this bill has some poison pills in it. it is good, i think, that the senators step back. message, it sends a
but i do not think that message has to be brought to a vote. and igree with bob, wanted ad, we are here on capital hill and there are many staffers here from republican and democratic sides. congress has already played an important role. iran is at the table in large part because of the sanctions voted by the congress and by the european union. congress has done a very effective job of sending that signal and enhancing our leverage. we might look to history to just recall how america has dealt with different crises in the past. with the president out in front and congress in support. president jefferson out with the barbary powers at the beginning of the 19th century or theodore roosevelt when he mediated that russo-japanese war in 1905, president franklin roosevelt in theng to negotiate before second world war, jfk and the cuban missile crisis -- the se these are examples when
we entrusted the president to lead. congress also has the final say. president wilson found that out after the riverside peace conference in 1920. congress, if the president is able to negotiate an agreement, it will need to come back to the congress because some of the sages cannot be lifted -- some of the sanctions cannot be lifted without progress agreeing. congress will play it historic constitutional role, but at the table, one american, and we have him and he is a very fine job of positioning us at the table. >> because we're running out of time, i wondered as to more questions. i will ask them together and then get the responses. the when is more of a technical question, but it has city of residence. it is simple -- should we recognize and iranian right to enrichment? that has been controversial. whate second question is,
should iran do to avoid military action while it is still an option on the table? enrich, theght to administration has not recognized any right to enrichment. it does not believe there is such a right. the nonproliferation treaty in its article four protects the right of compliant npt parties to engage in nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. it is not talk about enrichment per se. enrichment is a dual-use technology that can be used for nuclear weapons technology. clearly, iran, because of its infractions regarding its safeguards obligations, has at least temporarily forfeited even the npt article for right to
pursue civil nuclear energy in these particularly sensitive areas like enrichment and reprocessing. even in the joint plan of action, there is no recognition of a right to enrich. a kind ofis understanding that in the context of an otherwise acceptable final deal, there can be a mutually defined enrichment program in iran, but not as a question of legal right. as a question of a successful negotiating outcome. >> second question? bob'sannot improve on answer. he knows that subject backwards and forwards. swing at thee a last question. what should iran do to avoid the use of military force? it is obvious to everybody that iran is facing a faithful -- fateful choice. if they want to relieve them of
the threat of force and sanctions they have to own up to what they have done in constructing a nuclear weapons apparatus, and apparatus to support a program. it is our job of the administration to help to convince them to dismantle it. that is the key issue for the next six months in these negotiations. i think a lot of people -- myself included -- have been very impressed i president rouhani and the foreign minister. they are different than any other iranian leaders we have seen since the revolution of 1970 8, 1970 nine. it has been very helpful to see americans sit down with them and talk. and think of the possibilities for our security, israel's security, arab security, saudi security, if iran can be, a peaceful nation. it is a natural leader, always has been. it now needs to demonstrate it will live easily. we cannot rely on words and we
cannot rely just on verification. he got to rely on actual deeds dismember and dismantle their program. that is the challenge that they face. the question is how can they avoid the use of force by doing the right thing, of becoming a peaceful state, by acting like every -- almost every state in the world. we are transparent, we tell the truth about our national screwed apparatus and the way -- in the way koreans have not done. if they can do that, you have seen the president and secretary of state are willing to meet them halfway. of so i really hope that all us can get behind the president support him and let's hope the iranians can meet the challenge. the partnership for a secure america, let me thank both nick and bob for sharing their expertise with us this morning. it was an extremely good seminar on the iran nuclear issue. could you all join me in
addressing our appreciation? [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] officialsservice testified this week about credit card davis: from target and neiman marcus. they updated lawmakers on the impact on consumers and steps being taken to protect against identity theft. you can watch that hearing tomorrow morning on c-span at 10:00 a.m. eastern time. at 10: 55, executives from target and the myth darkest -- and neiman marcus testified. sunday on c-span, rand paul is our guest on "newsmakers." the political impacts of the monica linsky scannell. -- monicame of what lewinsky scandal.
this is some of what he had to say. >> we will defend you against abuse, these best some when the leader of their party, the leading fundraiser in the country is bill clinton who was a perpetrator of that kind of sexual harassment. they cannot have it both ways. i really think that anybody who wants to take money from bill clinton or have a fundraiser has a lot of explaining to do. they should give the money back. if they want to take a position on women's rights, by all means do, but you cannot do it and take it from a guy who is using his position of authority to take advantage of young women in the work ways. 800,000 dollar fine for sexual harassment. >> you can watch that on sunday on "newsmakers. "newsmakers." [indiscernible]
i believe will go successfully indeed. e very successfully indeed. of what had been ruled as on parliamentary expressions. ago i think the present prime minister i seem to recall was required by the speaker to withdraw your market he had made which suggested that the leader of the opposition was in some ways less than honest. i cannot remember the details. anre are a whole lot of parliamentary expressions. wasas said that churchill once instructed by the speaker to with draw an accusation of lying, and he said instead of
accusing whoever it was of telling a lie, he said to him, it a i will call terminological exactitude. nobody could ever find that in the official report. it is probably a myth. >> the former london producer with a look at the british parliament, sunday night. earlier today homeland security secretary jeh johnson said syria had become a matter of homeland security. he said preventing terrorist attacks should be the cornerstone of national security. secretary johnson spoke at the woodrow wilson center in washington, d.c. >> good morning, and welcome to the wilson center.
you are just some of the folks that are about to listen to this. there is a worldwide audience. there are overflow rooms. you are here for the right reasons. let me recognize a few of our special guests in the front rows. dr. susan demarco johnson is secretary. she is right in front of me. some of the dhs leadership, including alejandro mallorcas. is julia pearson here? the first director of the u.s. secret service, who happens to be a woman. the fema director -- you should applaud for that. [applause] fema director craig fugate. and thomas winkowski.
another spoke here recently on strategy. a number of ambassadors and members of two groups, the aspen institute homeland security group is in the front rows, and the homeland security advisory council. these are folks who in various ways, including me -- i am a co-chair and i am on the other group, are trying to give our best advice. leading dhs is a tough job. some of us were the founding mothers and fathers. blending the culture of 22 agencies reporting to more than 100 different congressional committees and subcommittees -- dod only reports to 36 -- and keeping americans safe is daunting. security is my bag, as i said.
as a former nine-term member of congress who chaired the intelligence information sharing and risk assessment subcommittee, and who represented some of our most vulnerable infrastructure, including lax and the port of los angeles, i can tell you that a decade after its establishment the department remains a work in progress. but significant progress has been made. lots of it has been showcased here at the wilson center. in the past year, we have welcomed former secretary of homeland security janet napolitano to discuss the efforts to include the private sector in our cyber security efforts. a "washington post" columnist on government capacity against terror threats in a borderless world. and we hosted an event on the
entry-exit systems in north america. over the past three years, we have hosted the winter meeting of the aspen institute homeland security group. that is co-chaired by former secretary michael chertoff and me. we met with the secretary this morning about a report we have produced to recommend some action he might take. we hope to be useful in the future. so today i am pleased to welcome secretary jeh johnson for his first major policy address since taking office on december 23. as a former assistant u.s. attorney, general counsel of the air force and later dod, he has been on the front lines of counterterrorism policy, from desperately needed reform at guantánamo bay to our u.s. drone policy. more said later. in a major speech at the oxford union in 2012, he said, "we must be able to say to ourselves that
our efforts should no longer be considered an armed conflict against al qaeda. rather, a counterterrorism effort against individuals who are scattered remnants of al qaeda, who are part of groups unaffiliated, for which the law enforcement and intelligence resources of our government are principally responsible in cooperation with the international community." that was his tryout speech for dhs secretary. he is thoughtful and courageous, and he will need be skills as he confronts the threats of today and those of the future. he will outline those threats in his speech, so i am skipping the stuff that i had put here. i want to say that 2014 will be a pivotal year. it surely is as we speak, in sochi, in syria, and in other places. the secretary is here to help us understand what is on his agenda. please welcome secretary jeh johnson. [applause]
>> thank you, jane. before i begin with my remarks, i did want to acknowledge two other people in the audience here today. first is fema administrator craig fugate, who everyone agrees has done a wonderful job in the leadership of that agency. i would like to acknowledge the commandant of the coast guard. he is a strong, solid leader. i know that a number of people are very proud of his leadership. he is retiring in may. after a distinguished career in public service in the defense of our nation. i begin by thanking the woodrow wilson center and the aspen
homeland security group for inviting me to speak here today. i also want to thank jane harman for your leadership and your continued service to our country and your willingness to be a supporter, mentor, an adviser to me, and to numerous others around this town. when jane harman advises, i listen. as many of you have heard me say before, september 11 is my birthday. on september 11, 2001, i was in the private practice of law in new york city. like millions of others, i was an eyewitness to the events of that day. i watched in shock as a beautiful, serene, and ordinary work day was transformed in an instant to one of the worst days in american history. while thousands of people, and
ultimately the nation, coped with a tragedy that theretofore was unimaginable. it was that day the department of homeland security was born. it was out of that day that my personal commitment to the mission of homeland security was born. for the next several minutes, i would like to take the opportunity that jane has provided me to spell out my vision for the department i am privileged to lead. a cliché too often used is that we are in a time of transition. the department of homeland security must always be in a time of transition. we must be agile and vigilant in continually adapting to evolving threats and hazards. we must stay one step ahead of the next terror attack, the next cyber attack, and the next natural disaster. the most important part of my day as secretary is the morning intel brief which ranges in scope from the latest terrorist plotting to a weather map.
we monitor world events real time and take action when necessary to confront and respond to these threats. in support of russian authorities, we are keeping a close eye on the sochi olympics. they are beginning pretty much as i speak. within the last 48 hours, we have, out of an abundance of caution, issued advisories to air carriers and others based on what we have learned. we have adjusted tsa security measures and are continually evaluating whether more is necessary. also, within the last 48 hours, in response to a very different type of hazard, fema has issued -- delivered 95 generators to
the state of pennsylvania where several hundred thousand people are without power due to the snow and cold weather. in the homeland security world, no news is good news. no news is often the result of the hard work, vigilance, and dedication of people within our government who prevent bad things that you never hear about, or at least help the public protect itself and recover from the storms we do not prevent. our overall challenge within the department of homeland security and within the homeland security community is to learn from and adapt to the changing character of the evolving threats and hazards we face. 9/11, hurricane katrina in 2005, the underwear bomber in 2009, the deepwater horizon oil spill in 2010, hurricane sandy in 2012, and the boston marathon bombing in 2013 illustrate these evolving threats and hazards. the terrorist threat we face is increasingly decentralized.
self-motivated and may be harder to detect. the cyber threat we face is growing and poses a greater concern to our critical infrastructure that is becoming increasingly interdependent. natural disasters are becoming more severe, causing significant economic loss, and with more variable consequences driven by climate change and aging infrastructure. the basic missions of the department of homeland security are and should be and should continue to be preventing terrorism and enhancing security, securing and managing our borders, enforcing and administering our laws, safeguarding cyberspace, safeguarding critical infrastructure, and preparing for natural disasters. as we all know, at the time dhs was created in 2003, it was the most substantial reorganization
of our government since 1947. in my opinion, the creation of the department of homeland security in 2003 was long overdue. many other nations face threats similar to ours. they have ministries of the interior or a home office with the same basic missions of bridging national and domestic security, counterterrorism, and border and port security. perhaps because our nation was protected by two big oceans from many of the world's hot spots, we thought that one department devoted to the mission of homeland security was unnecessary. that thinking obviously changed on 9/11. further, consider where all of the 22 components of homeland security existed before the creation of the department in 2003.
scattered across the departments of agriculture, energy, justice, treasury, transportation, defense, health and human services, and the general services administration, including departments that do not have national security or law-enforcement as their core mission. in just seven weeks, i have already seen the wisdom of combining a number of these capabilities within one department of government. when i convene a meeting to discuss how the latest terrorist threats might penetrate homeland, the participants include dhs's intelligence and analysis office, border protection, tsa, immigration and customs enforcement, citizenship and immigration services, the coast guard, and the national protection program director. put another way, with the creation of dhs, a terrorist searching for weaknesses along
our air, land, and sea borders for me, preventing terrorist attacks on the homeland is and should remain the cornerstone of homeland security. through our counterterrorism effort in both the bush and obama administrations, we have put al qaeda's core leadership on the path to defeat. the threat has evolved. since 2009, we saw the rise of al qaeda affiliates, such as al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. they have made repeated efforts to export terrorism to our homeland. working with others, we must deny them a safe haven, a place to hide, training to launch attacks. we're focused on foreign fighters heading to syria right now. based on our work and the work
of our international partners, we know individuals from the u.s., canada, and europe are traveling to syria to fight in the conflict. at the same time, extremists are actively trying to recruit westerners and indoctrinate them and see them return to their home countries with an extremist mission. last night, i returned from poland, where the attorney general and i met with my counterparts from the u.k., france, italy, and poland. syria was the number one topic of conversation for them and for us. syria has become a matter of homeland security. dhs, the fbi, and the intelligence community to continue to work closely to identify those foreign fighters that represent a threat to the homeland. we face threats from those who self radicalized, to violence of so-called lone wolves.
they did not train overseas or became part of an enemy force. they may be inspired by radical ideology to do harm to americans. in many respects, this is the terrorist threat to the homeland. it was illustrated last year by the boston marathon bombing. i worry about this the most. it may be the hardest to detect. it involves independent actors living within our midst, with easy access to things that, in the wrong hands, become tools of mass violence. we must remain vigilant in countering all of these threats. at the department of defense, i was witness to the extraordinary efforts of our military and the other national security and intelligence components of our government encountering terrorist threats overseas. here at home, given the evolving threat, i believe it is critical
over the next several years that dhs continue to build relationships with state and local governments and the first responders in those governments. we must also continue to encourage public participation in our efforts on their behalf through the nationwide suspicious activity reporting initiatives and campaigns such as if you see something, say something. that was on prominent display at airports and even at the super bowl five days ago. homeland security is a team effort. border and port security is indispensable to homeland security. good border security is a barrier to terrorist threats, drug traffickers, transnational criminal organizations, and other threats to national security and public safety. in my first month in office, i visited our southwest borders. smuggling organizations are
responsible for almost all of those who cross the border illegally. i saw the south texas border on the rio grande. the shallow places on that river where someone could walk about 200 feet across without getting their knees wet -- by helicopter, i saw the arizona border. there's the fort isabel detention center near brownsville. i saw detainees, only 18% of whom were mexican. the rest represent over 30 different nationalities who migrated to mexico in an effort to get to the united states. in arizona, i visited the ranchers who live and work on the border, frustrated by damage to their properties caused by those who cross the border illegally. i have met a number of groups and individuals who represent a wide range of views about the border. i will make it a practice to continue to do so. with the recent addition of funding for staffing and surveillance, we have made great progress in border and port
security. there is now more manpower, technology, and infrastructure on our borders than ever before. we must remain vigilant. the answer is not simply to build longer or taller fences. as my predecessor used to say, show me a 50 foot fence and i will show you a 51 foot ladder. border patrol experts preach an intelligence driven, risk-based approach that focuses resources on the places where our surveillance and intelligence tells us the threat exists. we must be prepared to move. i believe in this approach. it is a smart, effective, efficient use of resources. i also believe in smart and effective use of our resources when it comes to removals. we must prioritize our resources on those who represent threats to national security, public safety, and border security.
in the senate confirmation process, i pledged to continually evaluate our priorities to ensure that we get this right. i have already begun this process. we must also continually review conditions that test at our detention facilities to ensure that they are safe and humane. we are gratified by the support that congress has provided to our border and port security efforts. we need the additional border and port security resources that immigration reform, such as legislation, would provide. in this regard, the republican'' recent statement of principles on immigration is a serious step forward on reform and contains recognition that immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed. this should not be an issue used in one way or another for political advantage. rather, we must define common
sense solutions to a problem that we all know we have. the president, the business and labor communities, people of both parties and others, all recognize the immigration reform is a matter of economic growth. immigration reform is also a matter of homeland security. there are an estimated 11.5 million undocumented immigrants living in this country. they are not going away. they're not going to self deport. most have been here for years. many have come here as children. as a matter of homeland security, we should encourage these people to come out of the shadows of american society. pay taxes and fines. the held accountable and be given the opportunity to get on a path to citizenship like others. this is not a special path to citizenship. it is an opportunity to get online behind those who were here legally.
this is not rewarding people for breaking the law. it is giving people the opportunity to get right with the law and it is preferable to what we have now. when reform legislation is enacted, dhs must be prepared to implement reform. to prepare for this potential outcome, i have already directed the deputy secretary of homeland security to coordinate the process to ensure that we are ready to implement the law. next, dhs must continue efforts to address the growing cyber threat. it is illustrated the real, pervasive, ongoing series of attacks on things like stores, banks, e-mail services, power substations, and the public that defends on it. the key to the government efforts is to build trust with the private sector. we must attract the best and thebrightness to come and work for us.
people like our deputy undersecretary of cyber security, who came to us six months ago from the position of chief technology officer at mcafee. i'm going on a talent search. next week, we are traveling to georgia tech where phyllis received her phd. we will recruit more like her. we're a big fan of cyber student volunteer initiatives, which allows volunteers to come and work for dhs in support of cyber security. it allows us to educate them for our mission. through the president's executive order on cyber security, and presidential policy on strengthening security and resilience of critical infrastructure, both issued a year ago, we are making good progress furthering our partnerships with the private sector. there is more to do. many have expressed a
willingness to help in cyber security. we appreciate those efforts. our basic legislative goals are one, new hiring. two, modernizing the federal affirmation managing act to reflect new technology. three, additional clarity and codification of dhs responsibility to protect the federal government civilian networks. four, legal clarity that dhs can provide assistance to the private sector when requested. five legal clarity that the private sector may exchange security information with the federal government. six, enhanced criminal penalties for cyber crimes. we can also support some form of limitation on potential solo -- civil liability for private sector entities, provided it is narrow and targeted and necessary to protect networks.
we must continue to be vigilant in preparing for and responding to disasters, including floods, wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, and, most recently, chemical leaks like the one in west virginia that threatened the water supply of thousands of people. fema has come along way since the days of katrina. we have improved disaster planning for public and private sector. nonprofit organizations and the american people -- we have learned how to pre-position a greater number of resources. we have strengthened the nation's ability to respond to disasters and a quick and robust fashion. we are helping communities and cities recover and rebuild faster. we will continue this progress. finally, we must be mindful of the environment in which we pursue these missions. we operate in a time of severe budget constraints.
the days when those of us in national and homeland security can expect more and more each year to our topline budgets are over. i am therefore obligated to identify and eliminate inefficiencies, waste, and unnecessary duplications of efforts and expenditures while pursuing important missions, such as recapitalization of the coast guard fleet. dhs also operates at a time when the public's confidence in the government's ability to function and work for them is low. dhs is unique among federal agencies for their long daily engagement with the public in airports, seaports and land ports of interest. the attitude toward the entire federal government can be shaped by interactions with the department of homeland security. we must be mindful of this as we
seek public support for our work. this is why i am pleased to announce that the commissioner of border protection will soon make the use of force policy public. we must do a better job of highlighting the good things we do on behalf of the american people with the researches -- resources we give -- they give us. a new tsa prechecked application center at dulles airport. it illustrates the risk-based approach to homeland security that i talked about earlier. it is smart, effective, as an efficient use of resources and taxpayer dollars. in december we extend the benefits to all military including those serving in the coast guard, reserves, national guard during by permitting travelers to provide information about themselves ahead of time, we expedite the process for them in airports. we better focus resources to the pool of people we know less about. this advances aviation security
and should be popular with the traveling public. lastly, i am mindful of surveys that reflect the morale within various components of dhs is low. our greatest asset is our people. each and every day the men and women work hard to fulfill our critical and noble mission. they dedicate themselves to the security and advancement of our nation. i will be a champion for those men and women of dhs and will advocate on their behalf. morale also depends on good leaders in place at each of our components. we must inject any energy. -- a new energy. leadership starts with recruiting new leaders to help run the organization. with the help of the white house and congress, we're bringing in some terrific people to bring in the large number of senior management vacancies that exist. i spent a part of almost every day on this.
i am pleased that in december, congress confirmed our new deputy secretary, and in october our new general counsel. we look forward to the confirmation of suzanne spaulding to be the under secretary for national protection and programs directorate. the next commissioner of customs and border protection. the next inspector general leon , rodriguez to be the next threat of u.s. citizenship and immigration services and dr. reggie brothers as the next undersecretary for science and technology. we are actively recruiting telik -- talented people to be undersecretary for intelligence and analysis, director for immigration enforcement. the next chief financial officer and other key positions. finally, we will also continually reinforce among all the men and women of the department the common unifying
mission of homeland security that binds us together. homeland security security is the most important mission in -- any government can provide for its people. i told you i was in new york city on 9/11. for years, my secretary at the law firm i was with in manhattan was a woman named gina tichiari. she is a shy, quiet woman who works about 50 hours a week, commutes three hours a day, raises two weeks, the wife of a retired new york city police officer, plays by the rules and never makes waves. on september 11, she was walking into the world trade center with her three-year-old daughter to catch the subway to midtown when american airlines light 11 plowed into the building literally above her. possessed by nothing but fear,
survival, and adrenaline, gina picked up her daughter and either walked or ran with her in her arms all the way to 14th street. anyone who knows manhattan knows that is a long way even to walk empty-handed. the image of a 5'3" mother running for the life with her child in her arms on 9/11, the image of thousands of desperate, displaced americans at the louisiana superdome during katrina, the image of the finish line at the boston marathon turning in an instant to a blast zone, the should be constant reminders of the urgency and the importance of our homeland security mission. i am aware that there is another component to my job. in the name of homeland security, we cannot sacrifice our values as a nation. we can build more walls, install more screening devices, ask more questions, expect more answers, and make people suspicious of
each other but not at the cost of who we are as a nation of people who cherish privacy and freedom, celebrate diversity, carry our flag at the olympics and are not afraid. thank you very much. thank you for listening to me. [applause] >> i got teared up as i think others did by the close of your speech, mr. secretary. let's remember that most of this room, everyone in this room are sons and daughters, spouses, many are parents. on that day on 9/11, many of us knew people who parish of people or people who were
at risk. ae whole country suffered game changing experience, a scar that will never heal in some ways. i'm going to ask you some questions in a friendly manner. to tease out more information about some of the topics in your speech and about you. we know you were born on 9/11. i'm told you wanted to be a subway conductor in new york city when you grew up. >> that is my next life. i will be a subway motor man on the number seven train. >> in case you don't know this, and it matters to me since i have kids and grandkids in new york city, the new york subways are protected to a substantial extent by dhs assets. thank you. so look at this. [laughter] your background is assistant u.s. attorney and a guy who has
a lot of experience in the department of defense. what equips you now to take on this awesome responsibility to be the principal spokesman for our u.s. counterterrorism policy? >> i lead a terrific organization of men and women in -- and with the people that are there is leaders, people we are recruiting to be leaders, i think we will be doing a terrific job in the next couple of years. the department of defense, a lot of people ask me if dod is like dhs, are they different? how are they different? the department of defense is essentially a military organization. dhs has people in uniform. we have the coast guard. but for the most part dhs as a
civilian organization. it is a different culture. like the department of defense, it is a large, rather decentralized organization with components who are capable of running themselves. while i was at dod, i the privilege of working with two terrific secretaries of defense, bob gates and leon panetta. i was part of their management team. i saw the make decisions. when you are the general counsel you have purview over the entire department of defense unlike almost everybody else. so i was part of the management team. helped solved a lot of problems. i was involved in a number of difficult issues. and as you remarked, i have been involved in national security since i came back to government in february 2009. i have been the eyewitness to many historic events that
occurred, and involved in some of the decision-making here in washington. but i would say the thing that comes to mind first when you ask a question like that is i have a passion for the mission. i left government a year ago thinking i was done and was settling back into private life. the president asked me if i would do this job. it never occurred to me that i would be sitting here, that i would be asked to do this job. but i have a passion for the mission. i believe deeply in the mission. i want to serve the country. that is why i am here. >> good answer. you do have good people around you. i have to give my own shout out suzanne spaulding, who was the staff director of the national commission on terrorism, formed by congress in 1989. it is one of three groups that
predicted a major attack on u.s. soil. i was part of that group. lamenting with the chairman on that people were not paying attention. thenne went on to become chief counsel to the house homeland security committee when i was a ranking member. she is very well trained for the mission. as are many people who work with you. since i mentioned to congress. >> i love congress. [laughter] >> good start. >> i do. nobody believes me. >> you will get a lot of opportunity to do that. [laughter] >> the other day i was on the hill i said let's do some , drive-bys. let's stop often see friends of mine. are you sure? don't we make appointments? we can do that. i just stop and say happy new year.
i caught a number of important members of congress by surprise. it is relationship building. a lot of members of congress, i know and respect. >> i'm pleased to hear you say that. when michael chertoff was the secretary, he would routinely invite me as the chairman of a subcommittee down here for breakfast. we would talk about issues. we formed a professional relationship which just developed into a friendship. those relationships matter. i know you are having fun. it is a fact that of 100 committees and subcommittees of the united states congress, this is not an exaggeration, have some piece of the homeland security mission. i think of is on the national journal cover, it looks like a where's waldo picture. it showed all the different jurisdictions. the 9/11 commission was a member
of that recommended a number of wings which congress did in the -- and the president did, except there is one glaring gap. that gap was to reorganize congress in a way that would streamline the homeland mission. you are going to get numerous requests to testify across the board. that is one issue in terms of for you.sap the other thing is that when you are a member of congress, you want to do something legislatively. pick one. reduction of overclassification of materials. you are on a committee. they have a piece of jurisdiction but not the whole thing. it is very frustrating from congress' end to do something. i am saying something sympathetic to congress here. let it be noted. for sure you have thought about
this. how are you personally going to navigate this? >> i do nothing it should simply -- i don't think the answer should simply be get off my back. there are a lot of people interested in the homeland security mission on both sides who ask how can i help, how can i work with you? how can i support your mission? part of my remarks this morning was to try to answer that in the cyber security world by spelling out the legislative priorities. some of them might have a better chance of passing than others. i did want to spell out what i think the legislative goals of the cyber security mission should be. you are right. there are a lot of committees and subcommittees who have a piece of the department. as you know, committees do not
often seek jurisdiction. -- cede jurisdiction. very protective about that. at least in the beginning i want to build relationships on the hill. at some point we will have to have a discussion about realigning the jurisdiction of congress. because it does require a lot of time and attention by the secretary and the senior leadership to go back and forth in response to committee testimony or individual visits. that is time that is useful, valuable time for a senior leader. i do find it useful to know what is on the minds of members of congress. the confirmation process is what it is. i had a relatively good experience. two months from nomination to
confirmation. it is an opportunity to find out what is on their mind. there are a number of very thoughtful members of congress who are embedded in these issues, who gave me a lot of insight in that process. you are right. there is a tremendous amount of oversight. and it needs to be realigned at some point. at some point i will be asking our colleagues on the hill to help. >> i applaud your interest in getting to know members. it will help. there are many good people who serve on capitol hill on both parties. the business model needs a lot of work. the committee structures from -- structure is from the 19th century. but there are opportunities, especially if you invest personally in changing at least some of the dynamic. let's move to cyber security. you carefully identified issues in your remarks.
last year, or maybe two years ago, congress tried hard but failed to pass cyber security legislation. >> 2012. >> two years ago. most people think that we are enormously vulnerable to cyber threats. the private sector basically controls at least 85% of our cyber systems. a lot of them have to do with critical infrastructure. the president issued an executive order which goes part way toward solving some of the critical problems of aligning the private and public sector. how urgent do you think it is to pass legislation? how can you as the leader of the homeland department overcome what was one of the huge
objections, that the private sector did not have confidence that homeland had the capacity to handle responsibilities on cyber? >> it is not a cyber security threat. it is a cyber security ongoing it is a cyber security ongoing series of attacks are different sources on banks, substations, a e-mail services to a different degree of intensity. it is no longer just a threat. i think the key aside from the help congress can give us are breaking down trust with the. -- with the sector. i'm developing ideas with what business groups, what private sector entities we should go to.
i think it is also a talent search. i think the resources, the talents are there, particularly among our young people, and graduate schools, people who are just out of school. we were talking earlier about the cyber talent that exists in the military. military recruits from a very early age. the military is very good at identifying those within the ranks who have a cyber security talent and bringing them into the cyber security world. we had to build that talent from either with in our civilian workforce or tracked from the private sector. part of my job in the cyber
security realm will be to look for ways to attract private talent. i know it is there. >> would it also help for better management for the department as a whole? it is a huge task to integrate the cultures of 22 different agencies and departments. if you had better management to mirror the good management and many private sector firms, could that help instill confidence? the big objection two years ago was it is not a well-managed department. this was the objection. we are wary of cooperation with its. >> i will not disagree with the. when you talk about cyber security, we have an office within dhs headquarters. there are components also have a cyber security mission. for example, the secret service. it is into cyber security.
secret service is very involved right now in the effort regarding the target stores. i think that one of the keys to answer the dilemma is visible leadership. good leadership but also visible leadership. good leaders bringing in good leaders. we have to be fairly transparent to become familiar with the private sector to become familiar with the public so that we build trust. that is one of the reasons we're here today. >> do you have plans to get out and about? i know you said you have traveled to the southern border. >> we are working on redeveloping some ideas right now. in all parts of the country. >> turning to a few other
issues. first on the homeland threats, one of the things that was clear to me when i was in the roles i had in congress was how important the mission of vertical information sharing was to the department. it is not just a role played here in federal government land sharing information among the federal agencies. it is getting information down to first responders who could be police you also could be private citizens who smell something strange in the house next door or something weird anywhere. that mission is going much better. i am looking at charlie allen who at one point was the head of the intelligence function. we talked a lot about this. one of the improvement i think that congress insisted on was
setting up something called the inter-agency risk assessment and coronation group. it was a teach for america group of state and local law enforcement folks who would come temporarily to the department of homeland security and the national counterterrorism center, which was created just about at the same time. they would advise on what the bulletins should look like that go vertically from the department of homeland security down to first responders so that first responders could understand what to look for and what to do. are you aware of these outreach efforts? do you think they need support? >> absolutely. i think that given the evolving terrorist threat which is becoming more decentralized,
more diffuse, less of a traditional al qaeda or al qaeda like command control structure, we have to be more concerned about homegrown threats, the lone wolf, the person who self radicalizes. that is going to require that we continue to build relationships with first responders. in the boston marathon bombing, it was a perfect illustration of this. we need as a department in a federal government to build relationships with state and local law enforcement and government. the federal government cannot be everywhere. the fbi, the department of homeland security cannot the
everywhere. that is critically important. that is something i hope to advance over the next couple of years here you are also correct that homeland security is a team effort that involves the public. we do not want to scare people. we do not want to take people. annoyed. we do not want to make people -- to make people. annoyed. that can result in very constructive, positive teams if there is public awareness -- about what is in the trash container at the bus terminal or what is in a backpack that was
left at the gate or something like that. if people are willing to note these positions package and report it to the nearest aviation security person or law enforcement officer. that can have a tremendous effect. we all hope it never gets that far. public participation is vertical. we never get to the point where innocent civilians have to take matters into their own hands to save their own lives. >> as your secretary had to do, such a compelling story. part of that is building trust with the public. it is a function i think you as the counterterrorism spokesperson have but so do local police departments. there have been very successful outreach efforts in minneapolis
where there were improvement of folks in al-shabaab. in loss angeles with the sheriff's department has had some very good cooperation with the muslim community. it is not only the muslim community that has problems. if you something -- see something at the local supermarket, you think saying something to law enforcement or the at the i just -- or the fbi to somebody who will get the information where it needs to go is inappropriate thing to do. >> that is correct. when i went on my trip to the southwest border, i spent a lot of time meeting with mayors and county sheriffs and police chiefs for exactly this reason. as i see it, we need to continue to emphasize that this is a collective effort that involves multiple levels of government
and the public. >> moving to border security, you mentioned comprehensive immigration reform. it almost passed congress, in case anyone remembers this, in 2007. president bush very courageously put forward a proposal, michael chertoff was heartbroken when the bill failed. now the senate has passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill. those conversation in the house that the house version might be different. you commended the congress in your remarks for the effort it is making. in today's press, there is a new comment from house speaker john boehner that it may not happen this year. i think it will be a great disappointment to many communities across our country who were hoping it will and to
our efforts to rebuild our economy after the most serious recession since the great depression. what can you do to persuade john boehner of steps he might take in this election year to get this thing back on the right track? he was one of the one for said he wanted to make this happen. >> i do not have a crystal ball. there are people who talk to the speaker about this and other issues. i am sure he is getting no shortage of advice right now. what i hope will happen in 2014 is that there is an emerging, evolving realization that this should not be politics. this is a problem that we have in this country that needs to be fixed. those of us here in washington who represented the american public ought to do what we need
to do to fix the problem. everybody agrees we have a problem with immigration, with enforcement and administration of our immigration laws. everybody knows we have millions of undocumented immigrants in the country. they are not going away. they're not going to sell the deport. i do not know exactly what the statistic is. 80% of these people have been in this country for years. going back to either 2004, 2008, something like that. they're here. they're not going away. from my homeland security perspective, i would rather encourage them to come forward,
the accountable, pay whatever taxes and fines they owe, go through the background check, and if they are able to, eventually, i think it is a 13 year period, get to a path to citizenship if they are able to do so. we need to deal with this problem. i am hoping that, and i really do see the signs for this. i thought that was a very thoughtful statement of principles of the speaker and other spent a lot of time thinking about. i do not know to what extent it has the widespread the port in the republican caucus. they are identifying a problem that we have in this country and seeks to address it. that is a very positive step to see both major parties recognize that we are to deal with this. a message that i would like to
convey and emphasize is that from the homeland security perspective this is something we need to do because of the added resources that commonsense immigration reform provides an so that we can encourage people to the accountable, which is not giving them a pass in some way. it is encouraging them to get right with the law. for my homeland security perspective, i hope people in congress and government will finally wrestle with this problem and we can deal with it. >> one more comment and question on this. i think the right term is "earned legalization." people have to go through a lot of hurdles in the get in the back of the line and 13 years later maybe it this law passes they can become citizens. the speaker was quoted as saying the american people do not trust the reform we are talking about will be implemented as it was
intended to be. should people trust you and your department to implement the current law? >> we've already begun thinking about if the legislation that is contemplated in various different forms it comes law, we will have to implement it. we have contemplated it. it is not like it will happen tomorrow. it will happen over years. we are beginning to think about what we need to do to get ready for this. this is an advanced planning team effort to anticipate what the department needs to do, when and if this legislation passes. i believe we will have comprehensive immigration reform.
i do not have a crystal ball on the timetable. i believe it will pass. i am assuming it will pass. i am optimistic. we need to prepare for it. we are he started that process. > you mentioned syria. you said syria has become a matter of homeland security. you did amplify that, it a bit. i think the audience might be interested in any additional comments you want to make about why syria has become a matter homeland security. >> as i have stated over the last couple of days, we are concerned about the foreign fighters going into syria who are leaving syria. they are encountering all sorts of radical extremist influences there.
we need to be concerned about that. that is why i refer to it as a matter of homeland security. it is not just this country. our european allies are very concerned about this issue. collectively we are determined to do something about it. >> i think people do need to understand that there is a variety of terror groups in syria. some of them have expressed a desire to to train fighters in syria to attack fighters in the west. it is a threat to people being radicalized here, moving to syria, conducting terror acts there and in coming back here. >> we need to do our best to take close attention to any balding situation. >> you were very careful in the way you talked about self radicalization. you had experts in this audience who have studied radicalization carefully. one at the think some of us try
to do in congress was create a multidisciplinary commission to advise congress on what the hallmarks are of someone who has radical views which are protected by our constitution, turning into someone who is prepared to engage in violent acts which are a crime and finding that nexus. in the last minute it became controversial. at least in my opinion.
a hallmark of some of these homegrown lone wolf type as they have clean records. they have not created violent acts before. many are on the internet looking at sites on how to build bombs. there is a lot on the internet there. some of them also intersect people either in our country or travel abroad who most think it takes human intervention. you said this is the focus. how should the american public think about this? >> i wanted to convey the answer to that question in my remark.
the federal governments, first responders, law enforcement in local communities in to be vigilant. we are building that he read we are building those relationships. because of the nature, we risk reading suspicion, fear among people about those that are different from them. that was really the purpose of the last part of my remarks. if you are charged with thinking about homeland security, whether you are me or the state homeland security adviser to the governor or police commissioner, you can build walls. you can build something that is
so secure that you make everybody paranoid. you deprive people of the basic freedoms this country is all about. we cannot do this. it is a delicate balance. do we have it right now? probably not. a basic responsibility for those of us charged with homeland security and law enforcement and national security is to find that right balance and to be sensitive to it. we can go too far. there are instances where we have done that. we need to be mindful of that insensitive to it.
>> in my opening remarks, i commended you for your speech on guantánamo and on drones which got a lot of attention and was a very courageous act for someone in the general counsel. you say in the name of homeland security we cannot sacrifice our values as a nation. we can install more screening devices and make people suspicious of each other but not at a cost of us as a nation. i do believe that it is not enough just to take out guys, although sometimes we must do that. very courageous people have very carefully try to do that. we have to win the argument do you agree with that?
>> i do. that is one of the things i said at the oxford union. we have to be sensitive to our actions. one of the things i think we will do, and i think we have begun this process, one of the things we will do is develop ideas for how we can adjust this issue in the homeland. we need to be sensitive to the fact that there are people who, while they live in this country, hate this country. they want to do harm to others who feel disassociated and disconnect it and are influenced by forces beyond our control. we need to try to address the audience in some way or another to get at this exact issue.
i want to begin thinking about this issue. we have already started developing ideas for how we can go about the living a better job for that. >> i personally commended that thought. i want to underscore the last part of the last sentence. we are a nation of people who cherish privacy and freedom, celebrate diversity, carry our flag at the olympics and are not afraid. i think that your statement of our values as a country is a big piece of your job. if you are to become and you
will become the face of warning about the terror threat it will be wonderful if you're also the face of reassurance that our country will survive this. we will be resilient. i know you said you're going to boston on the anniversary of the marathon bonding. -- bombing. there was a place where a horrible thing happened but a community pulled together very quickly and never lost its stride. we did not do it that well on 9/11. we did it that well in boston. boston is strong. i would hope that those are lessons we can learn, not just we the people listening on the outside, but that we can learn the department of homeland security can learn and can teach and can help inspire others to teach.
i would just like to close this event which i think has been a wonderful honor for the wilson center. and an example of the kinds of things we do here. when john brennan was a terror adviser in the white house came to talk here. >> i was sitting right there. >> it was a wonderful event, was not? yes it was. as we close this event, let me just offer you the last word to any last thought you had. >> parting shots. thank you again for your leadership. thank you for bringing me here.
thank you for your mentorship and support. this is a terrific organization. it is educational. it is sober. it is a place for thoughtful, intelligent escutcheon. >> it is nonpartisan. >> and it is non-partisan. when you talk about national and homeland security, it should not be partisan. i believe that fervently. thank you for the terrific work you do here. i am sure i will see you again. >> i thank you. the terrorists are not going to check the party registration before they blow us up. we should focus on this as a country. thank you coming as un-american to talk about a challenge -- as an american to talk about a challenge as an american. >> thank you. [applause]
will be on iran. the spotlight will be on the rainy and government. they are going to have to agree to a significant rollback of their uranium enrichment program. the idea that they would have 90,000 centrifuges spinning is something i don't think they've thought about. we will have to see this moment of the program. think that we want to see some significant transformation. either a dismantlement of the facility altogether or transition so that we can be assured that it will not open up another route. i know the foreign minister all ready said that he had not
committed to dismantlement. i hope that was for domestic purposes. i hope he understands that dismantlement has to be a part of this. the rainy and government is being judged. iranian government is being judged. they're going to have to prove to us, not just through inspections, but through dismantlement, but they are ready to become a peaceful country. i'm not a country intent on developing nuclear weapons. that is the test for them. the pressure has shifted to them. i strongly support the president and what he is trying to do. he has brought us very
skillfully to the present day. the negotiations will now be much tougher. i know that congress has been considering the merits of additional sanctions on iran. my view is that the president has to decide on foreign policy. we elected to do that. i do not think it is a to thinke proposition that we cannot 535 people negotiating with a ram. the administration said that further sanctions would not be helpful. what the negotiator thinks, i would think we should honor the negotiator and what he thinks. a time when further sanctions would be helpful.
but we want to see an integration on this very important issue. this is not a trivial matter. as is the number one issue facing our country overseas. reports thathe congress will likely stand down on the current sanctions, i hope those reports are accurate and that congress will give the president the time and the space and the room he needs to be our chief diplomat and our chief ago. sunday on c-span rand paul is our guest. among the topics discussed, immigration reform. force for those running president in the monica lewinsky scandal. you can watch that here on c-span. president obama signed a firm built today at michigan state university.
>> hello. [applause] thank you so much. everybody have a seat. it is good to be in michigan state. thank you for that wonderful introduction. give them a big round of applause. how did dad do? was a pretty good? it is good to be with all of you here today. i am here because i have heard about all of the great inks you are doing. i am also here to do some
scouting on my break. [applause] the spartans are looking pretty good. i know things were little wild for a while. the truth is that coach always paces so that you peek right at the tournament. that is a fact. and i had a chance to meet mark dantonio. [applause] so you've all ready got a rose bowl victory. you guys are greedy. [laughter] you want to win everything. i love coming to michigan. mainly in love coming because of the people.
but i also love coming here because there are few places in the country that symbolize what we have been together -- through together. the auto industry has always been the heart of auto manufacturing. when that heart rate was flatlining we felt that together. all the workers who punched in , ande line, management elected officials. all the officials who believed -- the folks who believe that rescuing the industry was the right thing to do. thanks to your ingenuity and dogged determination, the auto industry is roaring again. we are building the best cars in the world again. sometimes there are three shifts
around-the-clock. something that nobody you had just a few years ago. [applause] i did have launch with detroit's new man. if there's one thing you want everybody to know, it is that detroit is open for business, and i have great confidence in that. the point is we all had to buckle down and fight our way back. bettert of ways, we are positioned than any other country on earth. our businesses created more than 140,000 jobs to a .5th and added million jobs over the past few
years. our unemployment rate is the lowest it has been. companies across the country say they intend to hire more folks. this is why believe it will be a great year for america. to sign a bille that hopefully says folks feel the same way. instead of wasting time creating have a we are going to congress that will create new jobs and new opportunities, positioning us for the future here in that is important. even though the economy has been going for years now. somethingill true, that was true before the crisis those true today is that
at the top of the pyramid are doing better than other. salaries havee not risen in a very long time. a lot of americans are working harder to get by and get ahead. before then true financial crisis and the great recession. we have to reverse those trends. have got to build an economy that works for buddy, not just a few. we have to restore the idea of opportunity for all people, the idea that no matter who you are what you look like or where you came from, how you started out, what your last name is, you can make it if you want to work hard and take responsibility. that is the idea of the heart of this country, that is what is at stake and that is what we have got to work on. [applause]
the opportunity agenda i laid out in my state of the union address will help us do that. it is an agenda built around for parts, number one, more new jobs. american manufacturing and energy and american innovation. american technology. a lot of what you're doing here at michigan state helps to spur on that innovation in all sorts of areas that can then be commercialized into new industries and to create new jobs. number two, training folks with the skills to fill those jobs. something this institution does very well. number three, guaranteeing access to a world-class education for every child, not just some. [applause]
that has to be a priority. that means before they even start school, we are working on pre-k that is high-quality and get syrian people prepared and take some of the way through college so they can afford it and beyond. therefore, making sure our economy rewards honest work with wages you can live on. and savings you can retire on. and, yes, health insurance that is there for you when you need it. [applause] some of this opportunity agenda i put forward will require congressional action. it is true. as i said at the state of the union, america does not stand still, neither will i. that is why over the past two weeks i have taken steps without legislation, without congressional action to expand opportunity for more families.
we have created a new way for workers to start their own retirement savings, we have helped to make sure all of our students have high-speed rock band and high-tech learning tools that they need for this new economy. i have also said i am eager to work with congress wherever i can. the truth of the matter is america works better when we are working together and congress controls the purse strings at the federal level and a lot of the things we need to do require congressional action and that is why i could not be prouder of our leaders who are here today. in particular, i could not be prouder of your own debbie stabinow for her extraordinary work. [applause] we all love debbie for a lot of reasons. she has been a huge champion of american manufacturing, but shepherded through this farm
bill which was very challenging piece of business. she worked with republican senator thad cochran who was constructive in this process. we have representatives frank lucas working with collin peterson. we have a terrific contribution from our own secretary of agriculture, tom vilsack, who deserves a round of applause. congress passed a bipartisan "farmville" that is going to make a big difference in communities all across this country. i want to recognize one of your
congressman who is doing an outstanding job. and somebody who was just a wonderful mentor to me when i was in the senate, a great public servant not just for your state but for the entire country. carl levin. he is always out there especially when it comes to our men and women in uniform. we are very proud of him. [applause] while we're at it we have a couple of out-of-towners. pat leahy from vermont. there are a lot of dairy farms up there. and from minnesota. all that cold air is blowing from minnesota down into -- despite its name, the the "farmville" is not just about bill is not just about helping farmers. secretary bill sacked calls it a jobs bill, and innovation bill. and infrastructure build. a research bill. a conservation bill. it is like a swiss army knife.
it is like mike trout, for those of you who know baseball. somebody who's got a lot of tools and multitasks. it is creating more good jobs, gives more americans a shot at opportunity and there are two big ways in which it does so. the farm bill lifts up our rural communities. over the past five years thanks to the hard work and know-how of america's farmers, we have had the strongest stretch of farm exports in our history. when i am traveling around the world, i am promoting american agriculture and as a consequence, we are selling more stuff to more people than ever before. it supports one million jobs, what we grow here and what we sell. it is a huge boost to the entire economy but especially the rural economy. here at michigan state your helping us to do more. i just got her to her of a facility where you are working with local businesses to produce renewable fuels.
your helping farmers group cops that are healthier and more resistant to disease. some students are raising their own piglets on an organic farm. when i was in college i lived in a pigsty. i did not work in one. i am impressed by that. [laughter] that is no joke, by the way. your hygiene improved as you get older. so we are seeing some big advances in american agriculture and today i am directing my administration to launch a new maiden role america initiative to help more rural businesses expand and hire and some were product stamped made in the usa to the rest of the world because
we have great products here that need to be sold and we can do even more to sell around the world. [applause] but even with all this progress, too many rural americans are still struggling. right now, 85% of counties experience what is called resistant poverty. ohs are in rural areas. before i was elected i represented illinois, home of a couple of your big ten rivals but also a big farming state. over the years, i have seen how hard it can be to be a farmer. there are a lot of big producers who are doing really well but there are even more small farms, family farms where folks are scratching out a living. and increasingly vulnerable to
difficulties in financing and all the inputs involved. farmers sometimes having to work off the farm. they have got a couple of jobs outside the farm just to get health care to pay the bills, trying to keep it in the family, it is hard for young farmers to get started. and in these rural communities, a lot of young people talk about how jobs are so scarce even before the recession hit that they feel like they have to leave in order to have opportunity. they cannot stay at home. they have to leave. that is why this farm bill includes things like crop insurance so that when a disaster like the record drought we are seeing across much of the west hits our farmers, they do not lose her thing they have worked so hard to build. it invests in hospitals and schools, affordable housing, broadband infrastructure, all the things that help attract more businesses and make life easier for working families. this bill supports businesses working to develop cutting-edge biofuels like some of the work that is being done here. that has potential to create jobs and reduce our dependence
on foreign oil. it boosts conservation efforts so that our children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy places like the mississippi river valley and chesapeake bay. it supports local food by investing in things like farmers markets and organic agriculture which is making my wife very happy. when michelle is happy, i do not know about everybody being happy but i know i am happy. [laughter] [applause] and so it is giving smaller producers, local reducers, folks like ben the opportunity to sell more of their products directly without a bunch of processing and middlemen that make it harder for them to achieve. people will have healthier diets which will reduce the incidence of childhood obesity and keep us healthier and saves money. this does it while reforming our agricultural programs. whether they were planning crops are not. it saves taxpayers hard-earned dollars.
it is not just automatic. the first thing this farm bill does, it helps rural communities grow and gives farmers some certainty. it puts in place important reforms. the second thing this farm bill does that is huge that make sure that america's children do not go hungry. this is where debbie's work was really important.
one study shows that more than half of all americans will experience poverty at some point during their adult lives. for most folks, that is when you are young and you are eating ramen all the time. for most families it is a crisis hits, you lose your job, somebody gets sick it strains n your budget, you have a strong work ethic but it might take you six months, nine months, year to find a job. in the meantime, you have got families to feed. that is why for half a century this country has helped americans put food on the table when they hit a rough patch. or when they are working hard and are not making enough money to feed their kids. they are not looking for a handout. they're looking for a handout. a bridge to help get them through tough times. we sure do not believe that children should be punished when parents are having a tough time.
the country is stronger when we get families back on their feet. that is the idea behind what is known as the supplemental the attrition assistance program or snap. a large majority of recipients are children or the elderly or americans with disabilities. a lot of others are hard-working americans who need just a little help feeding their families while they look for job or they're trying to find a better one. in 2012 the program kept nearly 5 million people including more than 2 million children out of poverty. think about that. 5 million people. that is why my position has been that any bill i sign must protect families. this bill does that.
by giving americans more bang for their buck at places like farmers markets, we are making it easier for working families to eat healthy foods and we are supporting farmers like ben who make their living growing. we are creating new markets for produce farmers and it means that people have a chance to directly by from their farmers the kind of food that is going to keep them healthy. a lot of folks go through tough times at some point in their lives. that doesn't mean they should go hungry. not in a country like america. investing in the communities that grow our food, helping hard-working americans put that food on the table, that is what this farm bill does. well reducing our deficits. the leaders all feel the same way but it is a good time that democrats and republicans in congress were ready to come through with this bill and break
the cycle in shortsighted partisan driven decision-making and get this done. it is a good sign. [applause] that is the way you should expect washington to work. we have more work to do. we have more work to do to potentially make sure that unemployment insurance is put in place for a lot of folks out there who need it. we have more work to pass them minimum wage and to do immigration reform which will help farmers like ben. let's keep the momentum going here.
in the weeks ahead, while congress is deciding what next -- what is next, i am doing every thing i can to strengthen the middle class and build ladders of opportunity in the middle class and i am sure that congress will join me because that is what you are looking for out of your elected officials at every level. god bless you. i am now going to sign this farm bill. [applause] >> down in front. >> down in front. >> i want to announce that marge is here. she does great work out of the great state of ohio.